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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Spokane delays opening of warming shelter near Browne’s Addition to Nov. 22

Homeless people gather inside and out the Cannon Street shelter, Tuesday, March 12, 2019, in Spokane. The city bought the building for $415,000 last week to serve as an overnight shelter for this winter, and it will now open the evening of Nov. 22, officials said Thursday. (Dan Pelle / The Spokesman-Review)

The opening of Spokane’s warming shelter near Browne’s Addition has been delayed two weeks to Nov. 22.

The opening had been scheduled for Friday.

The delay will allow tenant improvements to be made to the building at 527 S. Cannon St., the city said in a news release. A contract with Jewels Helping Hands, the nonprofit awarded the right to operate the shelter, has also been amended to include insurance against employee theft after it was reported earlier this week one of its founders had been convicted in federal court of mail fraud.

“Ensuring the safety and security for patrons accessing services at the facility is the first priority and additional work is necessary to provide the minimum legally permitted level of operations,” said Tim Sigler, the city’s interim director of Community, Housing and Human Services, in the statement.

The city purchased the building last week for $415,000. At the time, city staff said the building needed some plumbing upgrades before opening, which they anticipated would occur next week.

Jason Green, treasurer of Jewels Helping Hands, and partner Julie Garcia said on Tuesday they were hoping to have the shelter opened in a limited capacity Friday.

Disclosure of Green’s prior conviction on a conservative blog Tuesday prompted criticism of sitting City Council members just hours before voters turned in their ballots.

Nadine Woodward, who is in the lead in the contest to become Spokane’s next mayor, said she believed the city’s contract “absolutely should be pulled” before the first ballot returns came in and that she “would seriously consider taking another look at that contract.”

The city has also approved operating agreements with Truth Ministries, Catholic Charities and Volunteers of America to run other shelters in town for vulnerable populations.

The facility at Cannon is expected to be able to accommodate up to 120 people per night, and the agreement provided resolution to tension between Mayor David Condon and the City Council about the location for an overnight warming shelter this winter.